by Toni-ann Mattera
Photography by Noor Nasser
While walking into the George Sherman Union, the sound of students at work is not the only sound you’ll hear. Sometimes you can hear some live Mozart, Lady Gaga or a beginner’s version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” being played on the “street piano” placed at the entrance of Boston University’s GSU.
BU’s piano is not unique as it is part of a project which has placed more than 1,500 pianos in 50 cities around the world. The project started in 2008 as artwork by international artist Luke Jerram. Each piano is painted by a different local artist and features the words “Play Me, I’m Yours,” inviting strangers to sit down and play whenever they please. The project titled, “Play Me, I’m Yours,” is commonly presented in a city for two to three weeks, and has reached more than ten million people worldwide.
“The idea for ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ came from visiting my local launderette,” said Jerram on his website, streetpianos.com, “I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realized that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.”
The project is meant to connect people and their love of art and music. Streetpiano.com shows a map of where pianos have been placed around the world, and even has a section for people to share stories, pictures and videos with one another.
“I think it is a great way to unite the community through music,” said Loren McCullough (CAS ’20).
The piano in BU’s GSU was one of the 75 pianos placed in Boston, and one of the three pianos on Boston University’s campus alone. This particular piano was a gift to BU from the 2013 Street Piano Project.
“I think it’s great,” said Elizabeth Wu (SAR ’20). “When I walk through the GSU and someone’s playing I just want to stay and listen. I love walking in to people playing pop songs. It sounds so different and classical.”
Although not all students stop to play, any passerby can enjoy the music that our talented student body openly performs and practices. Next time you’re in the George Sherman Union, stop to listen to whatever tune might be playing, look at the artwork on the piano created by local artists or even try out your own piano skills.